I was so looking forward to reading Shadow Hills by Anastasia Hopcus. I had heard so many great things, and the good news is - I loved it!
Since her sister’s mysterious death, Persephone “Phe” Archer has been plagued by a series of disturbing dreams. Determined to find out what happened to her sister, Phe enrolls at Devenish Prep in Shadow Hills, Massachusetts—the subject of her sister’s final diary entry. After stepping on campus, Phe immediately realizes that there’s something different about this place—an unexplained epidemic that decimated the town in the 1700s, an ancient and creepy cemetery, and gorgeous boy Zach—and somehow she’s connected to it all. But the more questions she asks and the deeper she digs, the more entangled Phe becomes in the haunting past of Shadow Hills. Finding what links her to this town…might cost her her life.
You can see this book is a mystery in some respects. I was in the mood for exactly that - a book that kept me guessing and always wondering what will happen next. Shadow Hills was perfect in that respect. The setting of Devenish is great - there was a whole "creepy" element mixed in this small New England town. But, it also had plain, old normal elements - like clothing shops - which I liked. I found it refreshing that within the creepy, there were elements that I could relate to.
I also liked this in regard to the characters. Phe may have had some seriously strange things happening to her and around her, but at the same time, she was a new student at a new school, trying to make friends and fit in. She also had some serious moxie, but would readily admit she was scared. I always feel frustrated when MCs run into dangerous situations without thinking that they could get caught and then never show fear of the situation. I liked that Phe was real enough to admit how scared she was, even when she was running off to do some crazy stuff.
Also? I loved that she cared about a dress that she wore to a dance - and her cute red shoes. I think Anastasia Hopcus did an amazing job of blending real-life YA quandries (What to Wear to a Dance?) and mixing them with the Supernatural/Creepy (What is This Strange Mark Appearing on My Hip?).
Phe's friends were just as great - I adored all of them, but especially Zach. I don't want to say too much, but I found the lack of a love triangle in this book refreshing. It was a nice change - I liked the focus on the story. And that's not to say that there's no love-story going on in this book. Don't worry - there is a Hot Boy. He may not have a sword, but he's got some other fun attributes.
And the ending. Don't expect all of your questions to be answered neatly at the end of this book. In fact, you may end up with more questions as you finish. I usually like things all tied up, but the main mystery of this book was solved, so I was okay with the unanswered questions. It just left me waiting in anticipation for the next book! And I hope there will be a next book!
Follow Anastasia Hopcus on twitter here: http://twitter.com/anastasiahopcus
Read a review at Mundie Moms here: http://mundiemoms.blogspot.com/2010/07/book-review-shadow-hills.html